Restaurant Review: Palmer’s Direct to You Market (Rochester, NY)

palmers logo

Palmer’s Direct to You Market has a long history in Rochester, NY.  They opened in 1850, in the Centre Market on Front Street in downtown Rochester. As the company grew and expanded, they moved to several locations and operated under several similar names, through five family generations.  I have visited their current location three times; once for lunch take-out and twice to eat lunch on site.  Shown here is my review of one of the lunch visits with a friend.

Surroundings
Palmer's Direct to You Market Exterior, Courtesy: www.palmersdirecttoyou.com
Palmer’s Direct to You Market Exterior, Courtesy: http://www.palmersdirecttoyou.com

Located in the Genesee Valley Regional Market, Palmer’s Direct to You Market occupies a detached building, with plenty of parking and a pleasant exterior. The market space is a combination of retail meat, poultry and seafood, and related items, along with a small but mighty cooked food service, called Meals-To-Go.

You wouldn’t know by looking from the outside that they feature a great lunch and dinner menu, with a centrally located seating area.  As I entered the market, I noticed this seating area first, flanked on one side by the cafeteria style, walk-up ordering line and kitchen, and the retail store on the other side. Actually, it is laid out in a circle, with the seating area for diners in the middle.

 

Atmosphere

On our visit, Palmer’s Direct to You Market appeared to be taping a commercial, I assumed for television. The retail space was dotted with cameras, lighting equipment, and creative-looking types discussing shadows, audio, and timing.

Palmers Entrance overlooking dining area, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog
Palmers Entrance overlooking dining area, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog

It is a bustling retail store with a butcher shop and seafood shop, along with a centralized casual dining area and walk-up ordering for their kitchen. Shoppers browsed the line up of large display cases filled with tempting fresh and frozen selections of fish, seafood, poultry and meats.

The seating area was about half full, and the prepared food ordering line on the other side of the store was surprisingly short at lunchtime.

Menu
Palmer's Kitchen Chalk Menu, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog
Palmer’s Kitchen Chalk Menu, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog

I peaked at the chalk-written menu, posted on the opposite side of the partition separating the seating area, as I made my way to the prepared foods ordering line. The full menu was on display behind and above the ordering line. I was impressed with the breadth of their offerings. I expected to see only a few hot and cold sandwiches, featuring meat and seafood (mirroring their retail offerings). However, I was pleased to also see paninis, fried seafood, seafood entrees, salads, breaded chicken, etc.

FOOD

Palmers Marinated Shrimp Salad, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog
Palmers Marinated Shrimp Salad, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog

My lunch companion ordered a Marinated Shrimp Salad with a fresh roll ($10.99). She said that it was more filling than she had expected. Topped with a hearty portion of warm, seven herb marinated shrimp, along with fresh avocado slices, crispy bacon, bright mescaline greens and tomato wedges, it was dressed with a light but sweet and tangy vinaigrette dressing.  We were both impressed that the salad came with an individually wrapped, fresh roll and butter.  She enjoyed the salad and said that she would order it again, as it was fresh and full of flavorful ingredients. I thought that it was a great way for Palmer’s to feature their fresh shrimp.

Palmer's Crab Cake and Kale lunch, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog
Palmer’s Crab Cake and Kale lunch, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog

My lunch was just as satisfying. I ordered a Crab Cake Sandwich with a side of sautéed Kale ($11.99), along with a bottle of Crystal Water ($1.25) and an impulse buy of a register-side raisin cookie ($1.29). The lump crab cake was larger and thicker than I expected, and had a spicy bite to it due to the pepper mayo, which I enjoyed.  Served on an open-faced toasted brioche roll, with lettuce and tomato, it was a great alternative to a traditional lunch burger.  I liked the meaty consistency of the juicy crab cake and the vibrant flavors. Again, this sandwich was a great way for Palmer’s to highlight their seafood (crab in this case).

Palmers Cooked Kale and Carrots, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog
Palmers Cooked Kale and Carrots, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog

I found the kale side to be just ok. It was served with juliennes carrots and slices of onions. The kale was rather bitter and might have benefitted from a second boil to release some of the bitterness. Also, the woody stalks were still on the kale, making it tough, stringy and hard to chew.  Finally, I would have liked a more carrots in this vegetable mix, for added color, texture and taste. However, the vegetables were spiced well, with just enough salt and pepper.

Palmers Raisin Cookie, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog
Palmers Raisin Cookie, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog

 

The raisin cookie (my impulse buy) was a sweet ending dessert for this savory lunch.  Moist and chewy, it made me smile.  I don’t know if these are made in-house or purchased elsewhere.

 

 

SERVICE

As Palmer’s Direct to You Market is a walk-up style ordering eatery, we did not have a waitress. We simply placed our orders with the kitchen cashier and paid for our food. We were then each given a number and we found a place to sit among the dozen or so tables. Shortly afterwards, one of the servers brought our food to the table.

The service, although limited by design, was just right for this type of eatery.  Both the cashier and the server were polite, efficient and energetic.  The cashier kindly answered my questions about the vegetables being offered that day, with ease and confidence.

Overall Impression

I found Palmer’s Direct to You market to be a hidden gem for a great lunchtime meal, served quickly, in a clean, comfortable environment. I also noticed that they offer reasonably priced demonstrations/classes on occasion – I might just have to try one. Want to join me?

IF YOU GO:

Palmer’ Direct to You Market
Genesee Valley Regional Market
900 Jefferson Road
Rochester, NY 14623

Phone:  585-272-9470
Website: http://palmersdirecttoyou.com/

Email:  see webform on their website
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/palmersdirecttoyoumarket?ref=ts
Twitter: n/a

Details:
Business Hours:

  • Market Hours:  Mon-Thurs 10am-6pm, Fri 9am-8pm, Sat 9am-6pm, Sun 10am-4pm
  • Kitchen Hours: Mon-Thurs 11am-2pm, Fri 11am-8pm, Sat 11am-2pm, Sun Closed

Cuisine: Seafood, American
Meals Served: Lunch, Dinner
Children’s Menu: No
Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Attire:  Casual
Requires Reservations: No
Table Service:  delivery to your table
Take Out: yes
Outdoor Seating: yes, seasonal
Parking:  Free and plentiful in adjacent lot
Valet Service:  No
Bar Seating:    No
Coat Check:     No
Date opened:  1850, 2009 in this location
Date visited:  Thursday, November 5, 2015 for lunch

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Restaurant Review: Black & Blue Steak and Crab (Rochester, NY)

black and blue logo

Surroundings

I wouldn’t expect to find an upscale steakhouse restaurant in a busy shopping plaza, but then again Black & Blue Steak and Crab is not your average steakhouse. Boasting a mix of sophisticated elegance and the charm of a neighborhood gathering place, it welcomes a range of visitors. On any given day, you might find business people lunching, families having dinner, friends meeting for drinks, or a couple rendezvousing for a romantic dinner.  Located in Pittsford Plaza on Monroe Avenue in Rochester, New York, you’ll find Black & Blue Steak and Crab nestled among a variety of eateries. It is the only one, however, that offers two floors of dining, as well as valet parking for those who don’t want to navigate the bustling parking lot in this swanky area of town.

Atmosphere

I have been to Black & Blue Steak and Crab four times since it opened in the summer of 2005, including this most recent visit for a weeknight dinner with a friend. Previous visits include a weekday business lunch for four, a weeknight business dinner with a large group of out-of-town clients, and a weekend dinner gathering of a few friends.  With each visit, I explored a different part of the restaurant, from the upstairs seating area, to the bar, to the main floor dining area.

Upon entering the establishment, you can proceed either to the right (into the bar area) or to the left (to the hostess stand). The bar area is separated from the dining room by a large wall of wine bottles and a sleek bar with stools. It also includes several bar tables and a lounge area for patrons. The dining area is split into a main floor dining room with booths and tables, as well as an upstairs dining area, with an open view of the downstairs.  A large stairway leading to the upstairs is the focal point of the dining area.

Decorated in neutral beiges, soft browns and tawny taupes, the atmosphere of the dining area is elegant, yet still warm and welcoming. In fact, there is almost a regal feel to the over-sized tables and sprawling, leather-upholstered wooden chairs. We noticed a dimming of the lights at 7pm, leading to a more intimate feel in the otherwise open dining room.

Menu

One look at the dinner menu told me that it had been updated since the last time I had visited. I noticed more specialties, as well as a new list of sauce accompaniments. The host/manager confirmed this during his stop at our table, mentioning that a few menu items had recently been added and/or revamped. I am glad that the folks at Black & Blue Steak and Crab are interested in keeping up with the desires of their local clientele.

The dinner menu started with Appetizers, and Soups and Salads. It also featured entre sections for Steaks and Chops and Steakhouse Specialties, which could be ordered with “Add Ons” of seafood selections, various Sauces, and Sides of several potato variations, vegetables or mac and cheese.  Additional entre sections included Fish, Shellfish and House Specialties of ribs, chicken and roasted stuffed peppers.  The Wine section offers both red and white wine by the glass, or patrons can order from the fully stocked bar.

The Dessert Menu was rather abbreviated, offering only a few options. However, each one was as decadent as the next.

Food

Black and Blue Bread and Butter, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog
Black and Blue Bread and Butter, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog

We started our meal with a trio of sliced breads served in an attractive wooden bowl.

One of the breads was a crusty French-style baguette, another was a soft bread with olives baked into it and the third was a wheat bread with a darker crust. The butter served with the bread was whipped into a light and creamy spread.

Our server kindly provided a refill of the bread bowl once we devoured the contents of the first one. We declined an offer of a second refill.

Admittedly, It has been a long while since I ordered steak (or any red meat) in a restaurant. As the daughter of a butcher who owned a retail meat market, I’m quite sure that I had my lifetime share of red meat before my sixteenth birthday. Back then, our idea of dinner was a beef roast with a side of steak. I have since steered away from red meat, not as a rule, but more as a matter of taste.

Black and Blue Fried Calamari Appetizer, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog
Black and Blue Fried Calamari Appetizer, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog

After enjoying our bread and butter, we moved on to an order of the Crispy Fried Calamari appetizer.  I fancy myself a bit of a calamari connoisseur.  I like it deep-fried, sautéed, broiled, in tomato sauce, in salad, with sweet peppers, with salt and pepper…in fact, there isn’t any way that I don’t like calamari. This particular appetizer of Crispy Fried Calamari ($9.95) was prepared with watercress, cilantro, cashews, sweet and spicy ponzu (a citrus sauce), and sesame tempura crisps. It was served on a generously portioned bed of wilted greens. It included both the tubular body and the tentacles of the calamari. Yes!

This appetizer made me happy. The calamari was tender and juicy, with just enough bite to it. So often calamari is overcooked, causing it to be tough and chewy. I didn’t notice the cashews, as there weren’t a lot of them, but they were not integral to the dish. I did, however, notice the wilted greens, which I think were arugula because they were peppery and hearty. My dinner companion commented that there were enough greens in this appetizer to consider it to also be our salad, and I whole heartedly agreed!

For our entrees, we both ordered steaks, which included our choice of a side and also a choice of a sauce. I indulged in the 12 .oz New York Strip Steak ($32.95), with a side of garlic mashed potatoes ($6.50 if ordered separately). The black Angus New York Strip Steak was seasoned with Black & Blue’s signature house rub and cooked to medium-well, per my request.  Served with a sprig of fresh rosemary, in a cast iron, oval-shaped dish, it was sizzling hot and smelled delicious. The house rub was peppery and a bit exotic, forming a nice crust on the outside of the cut. The inside, however, was perfectly light pink from end to end, and oh so tender.  I was quickly reminded of the joys of savoring a perfectly cooked steak.

12 oz. NY Strip Steak entree at Black & Blue, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog
12 oz. NY Strip Steak entree at Black & Blue, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog
Wine Demiglaze sauce, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog
Black and Blue Red Wine Demiglaze sauce, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog

It took me a few tastes to warm up to the Red Wine Demiglaze, as I found it to be sweeter than expected. However, after reconsidering, I decided that I did indeed like it paired with my steak as a dipping sauce, and with my mashed potatoes as a sweet gravy. I was glad that I ordered it on the side, as opposed to topping the steak. As such, I was able to taste the house steak rub on its own, separate from the demiglaze.

Black and Blue Garlic Mashed Potatoes Side Dish, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog.
Black and Blue Garlic Mashed Potatoes Side Dish, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog.

Like the steak, the garlic mashed potatoes were served in a cast iron side dish, piping hot. They lived up to their name, with plenty of garlic, as well as sliced red onions and a garnish of slivered chives.

They were more of a rustic dish, as opposed to perfectly smooth mashed potatoes. I prefer the rougher mash, as it pairs nicely with a substantial steak. The portion was large. so we shared our sides dishes of spinach and potatoes.

My dinner companion ordered an 8 oz. Filet Mignon ($33.95), with a side of creamy spinach ($6.50 if ordered separately). In addition, she sipped a glass of Snapdragon Riesling wine ($6.95).

Black and Blue Filet Mignon entre, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog
Black and Blue Filet Mignon entre, Courtesy: Sharon Garofanello

Her filet was also served with a sprig of fresh rosemary and a dollop of black truffle butter, in the same type of oval, cast iron dish that I received. She said that it was tender and tasty, and she enjoyed it quite a bit.

Black and Blue Creamy Spinach side, Courtesy: Sharon Garofanello
Black and Blue Creamy Spinach side, Courtesy: Sharon Garofanello

Her side of creamy spinach was an excellent choice. Since we shared our side dishes, I had the opportunity to taste the spinach as well.  I liked that the it was tender, but not over cooked – it still had a nice texture to it. Also, there was just enough of a cream sauce to cloak it nicely, without drowning it.

The spinach sizzled when I portioned some of it onto my own hot dish This gave it a bit of an extra sear, which really enhanced the texture.

Black and Blue Chocolate Truffles Complementary, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog
Black and Blue Chocolate Truffles Complementary, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog

 

 

 

We perused the dessert menu, but we were too full to indulge in a decadent dessert. To our delight though, our bill was served with two complementary chocolate truffles. They were fabulous; just enough to end this savory meal on a sweet note.

Service

Because we arrived at Black & Blue Steak and Crab for a rather early dinner (5:30 pm) on a weeknight, it wasn’t at all crowded. As a result, we were showered with attention from the hostess, our server, the manager, and pretty much any other employee in the restaurant.  I was seated without delay and as I waited for my dining companion, the attendant was sure to fill our water glasses and remove the two unneeded place settings in short order.

Our server was friendly and attentive. He told us of the day’s specials, took our drink orders and quickly returned with our bowl of bread and butter.  He easily answered our questions about a few menu items and then took our orders. Our appetizer arrived in good time, followed not too much later by our entres and side dishes. Unfortunately, my dinner companion did not receive her glass of wine until we were close to finished with our crispy calamari appetizer. It was, however, delivered with a sincere apology for the delay.

I was impressed with the finesse of the employee who cleared our table, complete with a dusting of the table to remove the stray crumbs. One issue that concerned me, though, was positioning of the servers. They were lined up along the back wall of the restaurant, in position to spring over to their tables if needed. However, this line of employees felt a bit like a group of lurkers watching us eat our dinner. It was unnerving and it made me very uncomfortable. If you have the same disdain for being watched while you eat, I suggest sitting at a table in the main dining room facing away from the line of eager servers. They meant well, but it was distracting.

Overall Impression

I liked it and I will go back, with the noted change to my seating position. Dinner at Black & Blue Steak and Crab was pricier than my usual dinner outings, but well worth it.  I would suggest it for a special celebration, a business lunch or dinner for out-of-town guests, or a romantic date night.  It is one of the few elegant restaurants in the area where you can get a perfectly prepared steak AND great seafood – a rare surf and turf duo that excels in both realms. Chef Phil Adams has done a great job creating a menu with something for everyone.

If You Go:

Black & Blue Steak and Crab
3349 Monroe Ave
Rochester, NY 14618

Phone:    585-421-8111
Website:  http://blackandbluesteakandcrab.com/
Email:      info@blackandbluesteakandcrab.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Black-Blue-STEAK-and-CRAB/586762011336139?fref=ts
Twitter:    unable to find a Twitter account

Details:
Business Hours:  lunch: M-F 11:30 -2:30, dinner: M-Th 4:30-10:00, Fri-Sat 4:30-11:00, Sun 4:00-9:00
Cuisine:                      Modern American Steakhouse and Seafood
Meals Served:             Lunch, Dinner
Children’s Menu:          No
Accepts Credit Cards:   Yes
Handicap Accessible:    Yes
Attire:                         Business Casual to Semi-formal
Requires Reservations: No
Table Service:             Yes
Take Out:                    Yes
Outdoor Seating:         Weather Permitting
Parking:                      Free and plentiful in private lot
Valet Service:              Yes
Bar Seating:                Yes
Alcohol:                      Yes
Coat Check:                No
Date opened:              August 1, 2005
Date visited:               Tuesday, March 31, 2015 (dinner)

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